When in Rome

Despite visiting Rome for the first time back in March for my mum’s birthday, I’ve struggled to write about it. I think it was built up in my head too much. The capital, the eternal city, it holds an immense promise of grand secrets that I felt were continuously just out of reach for me. The city didn’t speak to me in the same way that others have.

My Italian teacher told me once that there are only 2 types of people. Those that love Milan, and those that love Rome. I guess I’m on Team Milan.

First impressions weren’t great, the taxi driver tried to rip us off. Set fare from the airport to anywhere within the city walls is advertised throughout the terminal as 30€. He insisted on charging us 40€ because of the traffic. I fought back in my angriest Italian and he eventually gave the 10€ change, but not before calling me miserable and telling us to take the shuttle bus next time. Apparently we got off pretty lightly, there are some horror stories on other blog sites (like Revealed Rome) about super intimidating taxi drivers at Ciampino Airport.

Quando a Roma vai, fai come vedrai

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. I think part of the problem was that I didnt actually spot any genuine Romans (except maybe grumpy taxi driver). I know in Milan you’re hard pressed to find an actual Milanese D.O.C., but in Rome, I felt like I barely even encountered an Italian! I probably heard English spoken more than Italian. Damn tourists!

It’s beautiful, dont get me wrong, but it’s just a big, old city to me.

It’s a funny city. A real juxtoposition of all that I love about Italy, the history, the moderninty, the romance, but it’s got a bitter edge to it somehow.

Rome – the city of visible history, where the past of a whole hemisphere seems moving in funeral procession with strange ancestral images and trophies gathered from afar.

-George Eliot

I think this quote might sum it up for me. There was something about Rome, a looming spectre of a haunted past that seemed to linger and I didnt know how to deal with it.

A city full of stange feels.  I know my writing is all over the place on this post, but that’s exactly how Rome made me feel, off balance. As we approached the colosseum, a saxophone played lonely jazz, and sitting in the shade of its looming presence you had the juxtaposition of the street sellers relentlessly thrusting selfie sticks in your face, tourists taking selfies or jumping photos infront, enveloped by the overwhelming sadness hanging in the air of those who had died inside that grand arena for sport.

The Vatican was stunning. The Sistene Chapel and the Gallery of Maps were my two highlights. The Sistene Chapel is incredible and the Gallery of Maps just beautiful to wander along. It was busy, obviously, but I think March was a good time to go, not too crowded and I think in summer the heat inside would become unbearable. I do have issuses with all that wealth in one place though. I had the same problem withe Grande Mosque in Abu Dhabi when I visited last year. Beautiful, striking, serene, but expensive, bloody expensive. God does not need a grand stage in which to be worshipped.

Anyway, I’ve not given up on Rome just yet. I recently found out about these guys: Scooteroma and I’m detemined to go back and discover the unadulterated beauty of this city that so many manage to fall in love with.

Here’s hoping for an encounter like this….

What are your thoughts on Rome? Which team are you on?


2 thoughts on “When in Rome

  1. Che peccato! Roma is amazing! I spend a few days in Roma every year on my way to Puglia and it is never enough. Stay in the San Paolo, Ostiense or Testaccio areas and you will meet lots of Romans-even in August. Go to Centrale Montemartini, Palazzo Massimo, explore the area around the Pantheon in great detail. It’s my favourite corner of Roma. Buon viaggio, Cristina


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